Against the backdrop of a spellbinding acoustic melody, Jimmy Goings starts to sing in a vocal stained with bittersweet emotion. The harmony he forms with the strings is painfully unsubtle; from the get-go in this song, titled “World at War,” we’re unable to escape the wallop of emotionality Goings is unleashing from behind the mic. His performance is transcendent of the studio environment in tracks like this one, “Don’t Believe in Anything,” “Now is the Time,” and “Soldier of Fortune,” all of which can be found on his stunning new album Late Check-In, available everywhere independent music is sold and streamed this coming July.
Instrumentally speaking, Late Check-In is a remarkably simplistic affair, but with harmonies like those in “We Were One,” the rollicking “The Last Tear,” crushing “American Dreams” and angsty “Crazy Like Me,” it doesn’t need anything more than what Goings has adorned it with. When this guy is singing and connecting with the essence of the instruments, there’s nothing present to come between his artistry and those of us lucky enough to be in the audience. His style of attack favors intimacy far more than it does sonic abrasiveness, which isn’t as common among indie country artists these days as one would assume it to be.
Production-wise, this album doesn’t have any of the frills that have become almost standardized in country music even at its most independent and alternative levels, which allows for songs like the hook-led “He’s in Your Mind,” “Records from Mars,” and “You Make Us Want to Cry”, as well as blunt slices of poetry like “Is It Just Me” to be even more accessible to us than they would have already been. Goings isn’t concerned with cosmetics here; if anything, he’s putting almost all of his efforts into making the substance of these songs the exclusive focus throughout the record.
I love the instrumental tonality I’m hearing in “Crazy Like Me,” “Ride Away,” “World at War,” and “Live Line,” and if it hadn’t been as prominent in the big picture as it was made, I don’t know that Late Check-In would be the moving article that it is regardless of how many times I’ve picked it up. Goings is conveying so much emotion to us just in the melodic fabric of the string play in “World at War” that the composition feels almost larger than life despite its ultra-conservative structure.
If you’re looking for bold musicality flanked with unfanciful songwriting aesthetics, you simply cannot go wrong with what Mr. Jimmy Goings has created for us in his new album Late Check-In. From “American Dreams” through to “You Make Us Want to Cry”, Late Check-In finds ways to be exceptionally provocative, deeply relatable, and starkly vulnerable in moments where we would least expect it to be, and among the independent singer/songwriter LPs that I’ve had the pleasure of looking at this summer, it is far and away the most aesthetically complete and inarguably listenable. I’ve got a feeling this man is nowhere near peaking, but instead getting into something fresh with his sound here.
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